On this last trip up to Hokkaido I spent a couple of days traveling around Kami-Furano, Biei, and a few other towns all located in the Kamikawa Subprefecture. There are 14 subprefectures in Hokkaido and Kamikawa is arguably the best in terms of popularity amongst tourist, that doesn't mean it's touristy, just popular. This part of Japan still retains its Japanese charm, unlike Niseko. The photo in the first picture was taken in Biei, a town famous for its wide open fields and picturesque landscapes. Many movies were shot using Biei as a backdrop. The best times to come up this way is in July and August, or even in September, winter if you've got balls of steel and can handle unmarked icy roads with almost zero visibility through your windshield due to sporadic snowstorms. The second picture was taken at a place called Kamihoro カミホロ荘 with its beautiful open air bath snowscapes.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term subprefecture or (shicho) in japanese, is an area made up of over a dozens towns and cities in remotely located areas. These subprefectures work as branch offices that administer public services of the prefectural government. Without a doubt most townsfolk would rather have municipality status than to be subjugated to prefectural administration. This way they can write their own ordinances and establish their own local laws without having to be influenced or controlled by Shicho. Smaller government governs best plus better services. Unfortunately, the population has a lot to do with whether a town or a city can achieve municipality status.
When I had finally arrived in Biei I was relieved to see other human beings for a change and snow plows. I almost came unglued and freaked out at all the snow during my whole 2 hour solo drive. But I made it and I did it all for this dish. No just kidding, but this Biei curry is one of the hallmarks of this area and it was absolutely the best curry dish I have ever eaten. Thick and sweet curry soup for dipping my thick noodles in, and a nice ice cold glass of Biei's own premium milk. Just perfect in my opinion. I even bought a liter for the road just to savor the taste one more time. I had no time to talk to the locals because I had a schedule, but wish I did. For the second or third time I saw a local lady with light hazel brown eyes! It goes without saying that Hokkaido has some of the most beautiful women on planet earth. I say that with confidence. Farm fed, fair skinned, snow kissed, hulking bovine beauties is all I can say, and with hazel eyes that softly pierce through their half opened eyelids like the morning sun through a sliding akarishouji door
On my drive out of Biei Town I grabbed a vanilla ice cream that tasted amazing. As I was driving down the main road I said to myself that there was no way I could live through this winter. Everyday waking up and shoveling snow and ice and then having to go to work an hour later tired and sweaty.
And waiting on buses to come, sometimes 20 or 30 minutes. Hokkaido's brutal winters can be unforgiving at times.
Snowplows moving up and down the street. This guy was wearing a tie and a light jacket....
Trudging through snow. City folk like myself cannot even begin to imagine what it's like to spend 6 months in snow like this. Generally speaking it snows about 6 months out of the year up here. Long bitter cold winters. Waking up and marching through snow everyday would drive me crazy maybe, but if this lady can do it then so can I. No cute mini-skirts were seen at all, finally a bit of common sense up here. I dare any Japanese girl to come marching around in snow like this in a hiked up mini. I would be impressed.
The weather this morning was minus 12. I filled up my tank one last time before heading to the interchange. All I wanted to do was leave this all behind.
When you're visiting it's different. I enjoyed the fantastic onsen and the food. The hospitality was warm and beer was great. Maybe someday I can return in the summer.